Miss. Senator questioned Navy’s readiness, shipbuilding, and an important study on amphibious warships commissioned by the Secretary of the Navy.

This week, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing to receive testimony on the posture of the Department of the Navy in review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2023 and the Future Years Defense Program. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday, and Marine Corps Commandant General David Berger all appeared before the Committee.

During the hearing, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) questioned leaders from the Department of the Navy on a range of issues, including the Navy’s readiness, shipbuilding, and an important study on amphibious warships commissioned by the Secretary of the Navy.

Wicker emphasized the need to reach 31 amphibious ships and pressed Del Toro on when a study he commissioned on the issue would reach the Senate.

The Mississippi Senator questioned Del Toro and Gilday on ongoing engineering issues with the Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) platform following the deployment of the USS Sioux City to the Arabian Gulf.

“How many ships have this class-wide failure in the ship’s engineering plan? And if the failure is that serious, why is it capable of being sent to the Arabian Gulf for serious duty?” Wicker said. “Either it’s not reliable and not capable, or it is capable enough to send it to be sent into harm’s way.”

Wicker also stressed the importance of the congressionally mandated 355-ship requirement for the Navy.

Senator Wicker discussed shipbuilding issues in an op-ed he wrote in March 2022 with Russ Vought, the President of the Center for Renewing America. Vought has also served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget.

“For decades, America’s ability to project power abroad has waned as our Navy fleet has atrophied. During the Obama years, our fleet shrunk to a 100-year low, even as China was building its navy with unprecedented speed,” the op-ed states. “Yet the Biden administration has reverted back to the Obama model, proposing injurious cuts to shipbuilding that would further undermine U.S. security. As Biden officials prepare to send their second budget to Capitol Hill, they should know it does not have to be this way.”

Wicker and Vought said that President Biden’s first budget request proposed a 3% real cut to shipbuilding, which would have yielded just eight new ships and a single Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. They said that this a “meager haul” compared to Trump’s proposed 12 ships, secured through a 14% funding increase.

“Thankfully, Congress asserted itself in the budget process and boosted funding for shipbuilding to match Trump’s December 2020 plan,” they wrote.